Being plant-based at Christmas is always a little difficult. In Australia, all the work Christmas parties are filled with ham and prawns. When I used to work in dental, the Christmas parties were my most dreaded time of the year. I was very put off by the smell of the food that everyone else seemed to enjoy and would sit in a corner eating white bread and random nibbles. I also don’t drink alcohol so the events were actual torture for me. I also find Christmas time in Australia a little challenging because it’s summer time and as far as I can tell, most Australians still like to keep more traditional Christmas traditions and a lot of the food served is more suitable for winter. I am happy that at least many of the Christmas desserts are also summery. I came up with a plant-based Christmas main meal for these lentil and brown rice stuffed butternut pumpkins. They look very impressive and in my opinion are a good melding of some of the more traditional classic wintery Christmas flavours and also a summer Christmas which is more fresh and light. The filling makes a giant portion, suitable for a large Christmas gathering. It can be used to fill more butternut pumpkins but can also be used as a side dish. The filling could also work great stuffed in some capsicums. Leftovers store very well and can be turned into delicious hearty salads. I liked tossing mine with olive oil and lemon, adding a few different chopped greens and crumbling over some vegan feta. I love the contrast of the savoury herby rice with the crunch of the pecans and the sweetness of the cranberries and pumpkin. Adding salty feta on top takes it a full step further.
My favourite thing about this recipe is that it’s also a powerhouse meal for gut health. It’s packed with wonderful prebiotic fibres from a wide variety of plants including, fruit, vegetables, nuts, grains, legumes and herbs and spices. It really has it all in one.
I used a large rice cooker for this recipe which was sponsored by a client, but the recipe can just as easily be made on the stove (provided your pot is large enough). It’s an easy throw-together one-pot meal with impressive results for the Christmas table. The recipe is also gluten-free.
|Lentil and Rice Stuffed Butternut Pumpkin
- 2-3 butternut pumpkins (cut lengthways down the middle)
- 1 brown onion (diced)
- 2 celery stalks (diced)
- 1 cup brown rice
- 1 cup black rice
- 1 cup quinoa
- 1x 400g can lentils (drained and rinsed)
- 1L water
- 3 tsp dried vegetable stock
- ½ tsp thyme
- ½ tsp sage
- ½ tsp rosemary
- ½ tsp nutmeg
- Salt pepper to taste
- ½ cup pecans
- ½ cup dried cranberries
- Cut pumpkin lengthways, scoop out seeds, drizzle with oil and roast for about an hour or until easily pierced with a fork.
- Rinse the rice and quinoa then add all ingredients except pecans and cranberries into the rice cooker (or large pot on the stove) and cook until all the water has been absorbed.
- Once cooked, mix in pecans and cranberries. Once the pumpkin is cooked, scoop out the flesh leaving a 1 cm margin.
- Fill with rice mixture, garnish with parsley and serve. Reserve leftover rice as a side dish.